HTC Incredible / Android 2.1 battery life problem

I've been using an HTC Incredible (running Android 2.1) for about a week now. Every phone / carrier combination has its trade-offs, but so far, I'm finding the HTC Incredible on Verizon to be the best combination of messaging productivity, application support, and mobile coverage (while I'm in the States, that is; when I leave the country, nothing touches a GSM Blackberry).

Starting yesterday, my HTC Incredible's battery started draining at an unacceptable rate. Even leaving the phone alone in sleep mode resulted in battery drain, which effectively made the phone unusable if it wasn't connected to a power source.

The HTC Incredible on Verizon comes with HTC's Sense UI and a bunch of applications that you cannot uninstall, including Facebook for HTC, Backup Assistant, Weather, City ID, Peep (a Twitter client), and more. On the HTC Incredible, I can sync Google, Facebook, Flickr and Twitter accounts, and link multiple accounts to a single contact. In theory, this is fantastic: it allows me to look up a friend and see all her contact information, her latest Facebook status update and her photos uploaded to Flickr. Reviewers seem to love this feature.

But in practice, all of this integration and syncing is broken. Facebook, Flickr and Twitter sync settings allow users to set the interval between synchronization, but [reports in Android forums]( show that allowing these services to sync can prevent the phone from ever going to sleep, which means full battery drain in a matter of hours -- even when the phone is not in use. Everyone seems to agree that Flickr integration will prevent phones from sleeping. Some say that HTC Facebook integration also causes problems.

Here's a good way to see if your phone is going to sleep:

1. Turn off your phone 2. Turn it back on 3. Wait 10 minutes or so 4. Go to **Settings->About phone->Battery** and compare the *Up time* and *Awake time*

If they are the same, your phone is not going to sleep.

I'm not sure if Flickr or Facebook integration were also causing problems on my phone, but I discovered that my battery drain issues were a result of problem with Google's *Sync Contacts* feature. All of the other Account sync settings allow a sync interval to be set, but Google account synchronization has no such settings. Instead, Google's sync schedule is governed by the master *Auto-sync* setting in *Accounts & sync*. I noticed that my *Sync Contacts* had an active sync icon by it, and an error message was flashing repeatedly (every few seconds) at the bottom of the display. It appeared that my phone was trying to sync Google contacts every few seconds, endlessly! It's no wonder that my battery was draining so quickly.

I turned *Auto-sync* off and snapped a photo of the error message (I need a screen snapshot app -- miss this feature of the iPhone!):

"Sync is currently experiencing problems. It will be back shortly."

I'm not sure how the Android team defines "shortly," but it had already been 24 hours, so I took matters into my own hands. I went to **Settings->Applications->Manage applications**, tapped *Contacts Storage*, and then *Clear Data*. Immediately after clearing my local contacts, my phone began to re-sync Google contacts, and everything has been fine after that. I have turned *Auto-sync* back on, and have not noticed excessive battery drain.

What this episode has done to me is make me extremely wary when enabling account sync features in Android / Sense UI. I've also started monitoring apps because the *Background data* setting in *Accounts & sync* governs background data access for every single app on the device. Most apps that consume background data seem to have settings that allow users to define sync / fetch intervals, but we are completely at the mercy of developers here: one bug, and your phone may never sleep again. This is one of the main disadvantages of not having centralized app approval.

I've already uninstalled one app because it refused to stop loading itself. The BBC News app seems like it might be really useful, but it constantly loads itself even when told not to (it doesn't allow you to disable checking altogether, so I set it to an interval of 365 days). If an application doesn't honor my request to stay off, I will remove it from my device.

Here are all the steps I took to get my HTC Incredible battery drain issues under control:

1. Removed Flickr account in *Accounts & sync* 2. Removed Twitter accounts in *Accounts & sync* 3. Removed Facebook for HTC Sense account in *Accounts & sync* (instead, installed the normal non-HTC Facebook app from Android Market) 4. [Disabled Backup Assistant]( - If you're setting up your Incredible for the first time and don't need this, DO NOT ENABLE IT. Once you enable it, you can never completely disable it... but you can effectively make it do nothing. 5. Cleared *Contacts Storage*, allowing Google to re-sync Contacts

I should have known better than to try to use all of the features presented to me. I always try to push my devices to the edge, but no device can actually ever do everything its manufacturer's marketing department says it can do.

**Update**: After taking these steps, I used my phone for an entire day (light internet and mail access and about 80 minutes of voice calling). My battery is still at 40%.


**Update**: Being unable to fully remove Facebook for HTC and Backup Assistant was bothering me, so I decided to do a factory reset of my phone (**Menu->Settings->Privacy->Factory data reset**) and re-sync. A factory reset is the only way to really disable those two apps once they are configured and running.

During the initial HTC Incredible setup wizard, I gave it my Google credentials but declined Backup Assistant support. I also didn't enter any other accounts (no Facebook, Twitter or Flickr). I also replaced my battery with a Seidio 1750mAh battery, which has also helped a lot.

It's really easy to do a factory reset if your mail, contacts and calendar are all on Google. My phone re-synced my 1161 contacts fairly quickly. I went to the Android Market and selected **Menu->Downloads**. All of my purchased and recently downloaded apps were listed there, so I just re-downloaded them, one at a time. I was back up and running in less than an hour.

My battery life is actually quite good, now. Today (so far), my phone reports up time of 9:17 and awake time of 1:04, and my battery is still at 70%.